Springtime (for Hitler?)

There is something about this time of year that I struggle with.

I love that the world is erupting into blossom, our veg patch is taking shape and small creatures of all varieties are being born (including a brand new ‘monkey’ born to some very good friends who will be suffering the 3 of us as godparents).
I love that W & I have our legal anniversary at this time of year.
I love that this is a time of beginnings and hope.

But its hard.
Its hard in part because the anniversary of mum’s death is coming up (17 years this time around) and its hard in part because the annual beer festival in our area consumes so much of my time and energy.
Its hard because its a time of beginnings and hope for so many people – after the cold, dark, wet of winter I watch people who hadn’t noticed their moods dipping begin to lift and shine, I watch their projects become invigorated and their activity levels rise and I know that isn’t me. Don’t get me wrong the dank, drear days of winter grind heavy for me too but unlike 75% of the population the lift that springtime brings seems to somehow emphasise that my depression is here to stay. It is like the way that the 1st lift of anti-depressants gives some people the energy for suicide that they had been lacking only on a broader scale, and frankly it makes me miserable as hell.

This year I get to be extra mopey about it though. This year real life is having a bit of a dig just to check I’m paying attention. W’s mum has been ill for a long time but its getting very bad and she needs to go and look after her for a bit. We need to sort proper full-time care and benefits and stabilise her condition as much as possible. I have known this was coming for a while and I think we are prepared for the financial implications (though it might put back my hopes to get pregnant in the next year) but I can’t say I’m not cross that ‘fate’ has let it fall over our anniversary, mum’s anniversary and my shoulder op date – quite frankly I expect to win the lottery as compensation.

So if I post over the next month expect whinges about the UK benefits system, my father-in-law and health-care professionals in NI and gushing compliments to my wife’s strength, commitment, care and honesty and to B’s patience and support.

 

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Samhain

This pagan threshold of the living and the dead is my marker of a New Year begun.
It is also the date that marks the very first vows my wife and I exchanged.  The words of our handfasting were for a year and a day to give ourselves time to reconsider – but I knew as clearly then (11 years ago) as I do now that they are for the remainder of our lives.
I don’t earn as much money as I should, I don’t keep the house as clean and tidy as I could, I recklessly fell in love with someone else, I often cry for no good reason, regularly eat all the cheese and rarely cook but still she loves me.
She spends on fripperies for others and skimps on her own needs, is always losing something about the house, is hopelessly forgiving of her demanding family, has dreadful PMT and steals my chocolate but still I love her.

And so I say again:
I promise to take you as my best friend, and as my lover; to be yours and to keep you in my heart and soul through whatever we may yet live through; to support you, and to protect you – since we are one. I promise to learn to have faith in myself and to not falter in my trust of you and I promise to listen, and to give, so that together we can be strong. Lastly, I vow to live every day in consciousness of this gift and to remember and thank-you for our love.
And 
everyday I choose you, choose to spend the rest of my life with you. I take you as my wife, my friend and my lover, through the bad times and the good- through every twist of our lives. I promise you my respect and my trust, I promise to share my hopes and my dreams and to offer you my strength and my care.

Darling wife, you have ridden with me through the storms of our depressions and put aside your fear to live with my polyamory and I feel so privileged and so humbled by your love – tell me how to show you my joy and trust in you, how to demonstrate my love and trust in you. Together we are stronger than any storms, together we can face the unknown and build our dreams, even if we have to leap into the unknown. I will always be yours. Ta ghra agam duit my wolf

Outside the sanctuary I would pray for her, and to the last I shall continue to seek her.
From her blossoming to the ripening of her grape my heart has taken its delight in her. My foot has pursued a straight path, I have sought her ever since my youth.
By bowing my ear a little, I have received her, and have found much instruction.
Thanks to her I have advanced; glory be to Him who has given me wisdom!
For I was determined to put her into practice, have earnestly pursued the good, and shall not be put to shame.
My soul has fought to possess her, I have been scrupulous in keeping the Law; I have stretched out my hands to heaven and bewailed how little I knew of her;
I have directed my soul towards her, and in purity I have found her; having my heart fixed on her from the outset, I shall never be deserted;
my very core having yearned to discover her, I have now acquired a good possession.

What do you Want?

I read a very perceptive blog post recently in which the author commented:
“Wanting something, getting my hopes up, expressing a preference, letting desire creep in–that makes me vulnerable. To deprivation, to loss, to mockery, to pain. Not wanting feels safe. Ultimately, though, all it gets me is preemptive deprivation. There’s a lot of emptiness in not wanting.”

It would be fair to say that I am not very good about wanting stuff for precisely the reasons outlined above and because there is a little bit of my depressive brain that tells me that I do not deserve to want. I have not trained myself into the habit of creating a series of goals from the mundane to the fantastical and I am even more terrified of asking for things. In general I have got away with faking these things for most of my life – pick something that sounds a bit like what everyone else wants and amble towards it without commitment and/or work your life around aiming for the things that those nearest and dearest to you want.

It all falls apart somewhat when the expectations of normal life fall away (in my case through lifestyle and relationship choices) and those nearest and dearest to you are even worse than you are at picking things that they want.
B is actually a little more open about what he desires unless his mood has dipped significantly but whilst he does talk about dreams he is a little more conservative and often unclear about his plans. On the other hand, my dearly beloved wife, W, couldn’t admit to herself wanting even so much as a steak dinner for fear of imploding (and believe me she nearly always wants a steak dinner). Wanting is anathema to her being; it involves a consideration of the self (where only others are acceptable), it suggests a striving against the status quo (which might be non-catholic), it potentially involves conflict with those she has been taught to defer to such as her parents and the social order. In short getting her to admit to wanting to be my wife was a miracle & wanting  a lifestyle or even a holiday is beyond impossible.
I believe there are secret fantasies lurking there in her sub-conscious surrounding grandchildren and cake and deer-stalking but I can’t begin to coax something out of her that I can use to create a life-plan and this means I have to try and work on my own desires.

And what do I want?
A family, a little small-holding and a steady source of income.
I want my family to be happy and I want to help make it that way

Turning 30

I pretty much like getting older.
Its kind of comforting, freeing, hopeful and exciting but milestones are pretty scary.

When I was about 15 I had a list of things to achieve before I was 21 (which gradually became 30) – at 15 the list had things like have sex with a man, have sex with a woman, get a degree, take certain drugs, own my own throwing knives, travel to every continent, skydive etc… I did a lot of those things but there were always more experiences and more targets to reach.
I want to tell you that I am proud of what I have done with my life and sometimes I am.. my relationships, my marriage, my doctorate. – all not inconsiderable and all pale gently beside actually living day-to-day
I really am consistently amazed by those strange people who get up every morning like its no big deal – getting out of bed like it doesn’t hurt, like you don’t want to curl up and cry. How do people do jobs and housework without collapsing? What is with leaving the house *every* day?
Nothing makes you feel like a failure like looking at the careers and families of your peers… Knowing the reasons that I don’t have a full-time permanent job and 3 kids (depression, anxiety, chronic pain, relationship choices & financial planning a.k.a. laziness,  cowardliness, deviance & lack of ambition) doesn’t make me feel less like I should be coping better.

Every time I hit a “life event” I start to miss my mother. Its a silly thing, on the basis I no longer have any idea about how she would react to my life now, how she’d feel about modern life like the internet and mobile phones, I can’t imagine what the arguments of my teenage life would have been like, or the discussions about my partners, what her opinions on my wedding might have been or her recommendations about my career. I can’t imagine what my relationship with her would be like and I have no understanding of other people’s relationships with their mothers at all. It seems almost ridiculous to guess and even more daft to still crave her approval and yet I still get blindsided by her loss at inopportune moments.

I guess the point is, if I ever thought I would get to 30 this isn’t what I expected. I am kinda disheartened by the whole process in that I am not all grown-up and barrelling along with my glorious life. In fact I kinda don’t know what next…

  • I did the doctorate (which I might add in no way makes up for secondary school & undergrad, sorry) but don’t want to be a lecturer – I think in terms of continuing research its got to be publications
  • I found my special someone… and someone… – the next obvious step must be kids which I think I (we?) want but what about the: money, organising, prejudice, fear.
  • I have *a* job – I don’t have a real income generator, or even a full time position and I really want to feel like I am contributing financially – next step is erm decide what I can actually do? Could I run a pub? Work in a museum? Even actually manage 9-5?

I don’t feel old, I feel young. But I am jaded, bitter and scared and I only see an economy and a political system that doesn’t want me.
So what now?

Another Year

Yesterday marked 5 years with B.
(Happy Anniversary my Love)

Soon it will be 12 years since I left home for university and a little later in the year 11 since I made my commitment to W.
It seems almost unimaginable how much my life has developed and changed in those 5 years and in the 7 before that.

A civil-partnership, a house, a doctorate. 2 strong, committed and positive relationships.
What did I do right?

Lucky Me.

 

Timing – scheduling & biological clocks

Tonight I am thinking about planning.
As I try to juggle the google calendar to make sure that W & B get an equitable division of my time each week that fits around all of our various commitments and work on what holidays we can arrange I am acutely aware of the drawbacks of my ‘lifestyle choice’. Both W & B are permanently compromising even more than most people to make this work and sometimes that is really hard.
How should I decide what will make them feel valued? What about individual emotional crises or changeover periods? How much do I take control and how much input can they have to the overall schedule so that they both feel involved and yet don’t tread on each others toes or feel embarassed about asking for stuff?

It makes me worry about how much more complicated it will be if I get a full time job.. a brand new set of negotiations and compromises and perhaps more fragile feelings. I know that we can manage because actually each of us are committed not only to each other but to making sure that as little pain as possible is involved. I know that sometimes I worry too much and that everyone has bad days or needs that they aren’t sure how to communicate straight away but that we can manage.

And this leads me to my other topic…
Children
More and more I notice how much W is tempted and terrified by the idea of kids, I know that B would secretly like children but feels that soon he will be too old and that there is no way the hurdles can be negotiated.
I am torn. I feel more like I could build a family with both of them than I ever knew was possible – that whilst children frighten me, it wouldn’t be a chore to watch my wife be the mother she should be or my boy giving that extra part of himself, maybe just maybe they would enough to make me good enough to be a parent.
But will time run out before the worries and troubles can be overcome. How is it possible to give W the family she craves which doesn’t make her, B or me feel alienated?
And if we did how would I possibly manage my calendar?

 

On Spending Christmas Alone

I have two beautiful partners and a wonderful family but this year I am spending Christmas at home with my dog and some beer.

I have spent all but 2 Christmases in my memory with my parents [one with the in-laws and one with my wife in our new house]. With the exception of the year my sister was in hospital, these have been stereotypical and near idyllic – think plenty of food and booze, stockings, everybody pitching in with the cooking, lazy evenings, open fires and board games… Its amazing and almost what I would want regardless.
That said, I have fantasised about the kind of christmas my chosen family and I could have if we had the option and the peace. The delight of just having our family together; of making our own time special. One day I will work my backside off to make their holiday dreams come true (together, separately or both) but I don’t know yet when that will be.
This year, however, I will pretend to be a bachelor. For the first and maybe the only time in my life I am spending christmas without expectations or traditional trappings. I have plans… insofar as I have food and alcohol to consume and a dog to walk. On the other hand, there will be very few of the things typically associated with the christmas festival (with the notable exception of the required phone calls) and no need to socialise or pay attention to the world. Despite both job and relationship configuration I am by nature a shy introverted individual and I need to recharge. After a year of trying to get my thesis finished and juggling my obligations the idea of being completely alone and commitment free if both exhilarating and terrifying.
I am looking forward to both sleeping and crying .. ridiculous though it sounds the release is needed and I think this will work.

On the other hand I can’t wait to have my loves back safe home and serve up a pile of pigs in blankets!

The Book and other tales of affection

A few years ago the wife and I when the wife and I were having a rough patch I decided to start writing her love letters.
Since then I have tried to write her a note for most of the days that we are apart in a big A4 hardback book. I write them in advance so she can pack the book in her luggage – which means trying to think of things to brighten her life and remind her that I am thinking of her sometimes weeks ahead of time. Initially, I wanted to remind her that even if I am with B in her absence she still has an important place in my heart and in my life and now, whilst that remains a meaningful part of my letters, I try to focus on planning our future and building a record of good memories.
Christmas and New Year are probably one of the most difficult times for us to be apart and I look forward to when she and I can really settle into our own family christmases in our own home but til then words will have to do. I hope that even when our separations are fewer and less painful she will keep our book to make her smile and I will be able to hold on to the importance of making that extra effort despite all of the little things that take up our time.

It is that same sentiment that makes me grateful for the evenings we commit to spending with each other, both W & I and B & I and sometimes all three of us. Its too easy to slip into the comfortableness of just being in the same place as each other but that never feels the same as agreeing to spend time with each other, talking, watching tv or cooking together are as good as going out to dinner and a damnsight better than faffing on the computer barely interacting. I think it is important to both of them that I make an effort to give them some time that is theirs and to do it regularly. Without it W would feel like I was only with her for convenience and B would feel like he didn’t matter and was always 2nd in my thoughts and I think I’d go mad without the chance to connect.

Still it’ll be fun to spend christmas on my own recharging my batteries and getting ready for new routines and new challenges.

Routines (or only cooking once a week)

I don’t like cooking. I find it stressful and time-consuming and difficult to plan. I am not creative and I’m no good at healthy.
My wife on the other hand finds it relaxing and inspiring. I enjoy eating her food. The only reasons she doesn’t cook everyday are that we’d spend all our money on ingredients and I would eat so much I’d actually pop. (She chronically over-caters and does tend to have a penchant for the finer delights of butter and sugar..) I regularly feel guilty about depriving her of the fun of creating fantastic meals but then I remember that work and research have to happen to and realistically no one has hours to make food everyday.

Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of B. He might not be as creative as W in the kitchen but he is willing and able to put together a meal from whatever scraps I hand out according to the budget (I am ruthless 5 days out of 7 so that W can have free reign for at least one weekend meal).
It works well not only splitting the food budget (and therefore allowing us to take advantage of some of the more bulk buy options) but also splitting the cooking Mon-Fri. Once a week W cooks for all three of us, once a week B takes that responsibility and the night of the week that I work we indulge in ready meals. That leaves 2 days where we go our separate ways (and I eat with whichever partner I am spending the evening with). It allows for quirks of individual tastes (W hates mushrooms, B can’t stand parsnips – I think they are both weird), everyone gets at least 2 nights off where they have no responsibility for preparing food and we can save money and work on being healthy together.
Don’t get me wrong its not all sunshine and jollity; it takes flexibility and lots of consultation just to put together a meal plan (so imagine for a moment the sensitivity required for other time management…). I get it wrong, pretty much every week because something will go off, or I’ll forget part of the packed lunches or a particular meeting or reason for celebrating, or I’ll forget that someone hates x or misjudge the amount of leftovers et cetera et cetera but you know what I think we are getting better…

Dividing the week up and compromising on the needs and desires of 3 adults is not everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoy having the support network that means no one has all the pressure and that everyone has a chance for their own space as well as always having an extra shoulder to cry on when those nearest are overloaded. What do couples do when 1 is ill in bed and the other hasn’t slept for 3 days and food needs to get from the shops to the table? How do more couples not collapse under the pressure of depression and chronic illness? I am thankful for my loves and my life.